Gardening with the enemy

I picked the first tomatoes yesterday. It should be a cause of celebration…but I had to resignedly chuck half of the ripe ones out. The reason? Caterpillars and rot. This summer has been terrible for the toms: it’s been too cold to get them really, flavourfully ripe; the temperature fluctuations have led to blossom-end rot on all the passatta varieties, and even more irritatingly, creepy-crawlies have been getting fat on my produce. They’re not just eating the leaves mind, but are setting up home in the actual tomatoes themselves. Who wants to pop a cherry tom in their mouth and get a surprise crunch of caterpillar? Not me!

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Tell-tale caterpillar poo. I’ve picked off about 10 caterpillars in the last week but the damage is done – who knew that caterpillars liked to eat tomatoes?!

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On the top, all is well…

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…but the bottom tells a different story

I’ve also got an issue with splitting, particularly on the Black Krim and Plum Cherry types. I think this is down to over-watering, or inconsistent heat. On the plus-side, there are still loads of green fruits so if we get a few weeks of heat then the later-ripening tomatoes might come good.

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If they’ve not been eaten, or rotted, then they’ve split

The courgettes, on the other hand, are unstoppable. This week we’ve had courgette risotto, courgettes on toast, courgettes in pasta – I’ve yet to make courgette cake, but it’s a possibility. The climbing courgette Tromboncino (actually a variety of butternut squash) are not climbing particularly brilliantly, but the fruits are setting well. They look like creeping sea-monsters! I’m going to let them get big and then store them over-winter for cold-weather cooking.

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But we do have sea-monster squash! (Real name: Tromboncino)

The early blueberries got nibbled by a bird but we do finally have a crop, and the autumn raspberries are beginning to think about doing their thing. I’ve turned them into my blueberry crumble cake, lovely served warm with a dollop of thick cream.

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First blueberries, first tomatoes, first autumn raspberries – and yet more courgette!

Harvesting: Tomatoes, courgette, first blueberries, first autumn raspberries, chard, beet spinach, sweetpeas, sunflowers, cosmos
Planted out: Chicory, lettuce reine du glace, chard lucilus, Russian red kale
Sowed: Turnips

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